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avislogoThe car rental business seems like it’s right there up with the used car industry as far as negative customer opinion.  I’ve written before on why renting a car seems like such a scam, and it seems like everyone I talk to about renting a car feels the same way.

I’m not sure what’s the worst part of renting a car:

  1. The seemingly random prices that fluctuate all the time (SEE ALSO: Avis changing the car rental price when I add my Wizard number)
  2. The way that they always try to pressure you into getting their insurance or other over-priced addons
  3. The fact that you can’t really count on the car you book to ACTUALLY be there (one of my favorite Seinfeld clips, see below)

Getting top rental car status (for free)

I don’t rent a car frequently enough to care about free days.  Upgrades are also usually out, since if I’m by myself, I generally will prefer the smallest car they have (because I’m maximizing gas mileage for a county trip), and if I’m with my family I’d want a minivan or SUV, which they won’t give as an upgrade.  But the one thing that car rental company status gives that I find SUPER useful is skipping the lines.

Getting Avis Preferred status for free

Starting out with Avis, you can get Avis Preferred status if you are a World Elite Mastercard holder, which many of us in the credit card business are.  This includes the Barclay Arrival card, Citi Executive card, Citi Prestige, Citi Dividend, Citi ThankYou Premier or Preferred or Barclay Hawaiian Miles card, among others.

The link to apply is at Avis Preferred status.

avis-preferredIt actually doesn’t say anything about putting in your World Elite Mastercard status, so YMMV.  According to the Mastercard World Elite benefits page, you can also call 855-802-1387 to sign up for Avis First.  Personally the online Avis Preferred would be good enough for me.

Getting Hertz Gold Plus status for free

Again, if you have a World Elite Mastercard, you can call call 855-802-1387 to get complimentary Hertz Gold Plus status.  Hertz is good about status matching as well – see this Frequent Miler post, so once you have your Avis or National top status, you can status match into Hertz Five Star status by emailing with a copy of your top status at the other program.

(SEE ALSO: Hotel status match – how to match at each chain)

Personally, as I look at the benefits of the various Hertz levelsInvalid request error occurred., there’s not a lot in Five Star that interests me that isn’t already included in the Gold Plus status, but check for yourself

Getting National Emerald Club status for free

National rental car used to also have an online link where you could get free status automatically, but that link no longer seems to work.  Still, if you have a World Elite Mastercard, you can call call 855-802-1387 to get complimentary National Emerald Club status.

I have not found any other car rental chains that give free elite status, but these 3 have generally speaking been good for me.  Even when I booked a Priceline stay (that ended up being Avis), I was able to still use my Avis First status by calling into the local Avis branch office (NOT the 1-800 Customer Service number)

(SEE ALSO: Update! I finally get Avis to stop its dirty trick on me!)

How has rental car status worked for you?

Here are a few ways to get top rental car status for free!

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